What Kinds of Music Do the French Listen To?

The most popular musical genres in France include pop, techno, dance, hip-hop and a style unique to the country known as la chanson francaise. French pop, which remains the most popular musical form in the nation, evolved in music halls and cabarets of the early 1900s.

French pop distinguishes itself through its elegant sound and nostalgic, longing lyrics. Songwriters and performers take it to a different level altogether, however, when they produce la chanson francaise songs. This genre is a traditional French musical form in which lyrics are stronger and more prominent that melodies. Artists such as Lecop and Katerine are known for revamping la chanson francaise to appeal to 21st century French audiences.

French techno, hip-hop and dance music are similar to the same genres in other parts of the Western world, incorporating the same respective instruments and general sensibilities as their international counterparts. However, because the lyrics are in French, they do not tend to chart outside of the country’s borders. An exception to this is Madeon, a young French DJ and music producer whose song “Pop Culture,” a mash-up of 39 other tracks, caught on throughout the world, landing him an invitation to play at the Coachella music festival.